Guatemala Launches COVID-19 Vaccination Registration Website with HEP+ Support
In April 2021, Guatemala’s president announced, on national television, a new registration website for COVID-19 vaccines, leading to a surge in vaccine registrations. One week after the launch, 118,243 people had registered for COVID-19 vaccinations. As of June 29, that number had climbed to 1,030,373—an almost a 16 percent increase from just eight days earlier.
The new registration platform—where Guatemalans can register via the web and obtain a vaccine appointment by text message—is the result of an alliance between Guatemala’s Ministry of Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS) and local telephone companies, and was established with USAID assistance to MSPAS through the Health and Education Policy Plus (HEP+) project.
Multisector Collaboration Garners Success
In early March, MSPAS developed the first version of a digital platform through which Guatemalans could register for COVID-19 appointments. However, connection errors and technical problems plagued the system. In response, HEP+ joined a technology board made up of MSPAS, the Ministry of Finance, the Secretariat of Strategic Intelligence, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, and other stakeholders interested in optimizing the registration platform.
Through weekly meetings, members of the technology board defined a series of technical recommendations to guarantee the operation of the registration platform, which they presented to the MSPAS Health Management Information System. These recommendations included (1) the use of new technologies for the development of the web portal, (2) infrastructure improvements, and (3) the integration of a web filtering system and security layer to protect the platform and prevent cyberattacks.
Private-public Partnerships, Streamlines Systems, and Mass Communication Lead to High Vaccine Registration Rates
By late April, MSPAS had implemented each of the board’s recommendations. HEP+ provided technical assistance to implement the recommendations and optimize and validate the system, which has been free of technical problems since its official launch.
In tandem with the president’s televised launch of the registration system, MSPAS mounted a coordinated communication campaign with the nation’s cell phone companies. As part of the campaign, all Guatemalans with cell phones received text messages informing them of the website and how they could register for COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals who registered online then received SMS text messages confirming their appointment date, time, and location.
To further streamline the registration process, HEP+ also supported MSPAS’ Health Management Information System to transfer vaccine registration data from private companies who had been operating their own platforms for COVID-19 vaccine registration, bringing everything under the new national registration system. Over the coming months, HEP+ will continue to work closely with MSPAS to monitor the performance of Guatemala’s new vaccine registration system and to ensure the transparency and sustainability of the system.